Military Council Deploys Troops at Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain

Locals report that the Junta’s heavily armed troops, including artillery, have occupied the Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain, a cherished religious site for Christians, in Than Daung Gyi Township of Karen State.

According to a Than Daung Gyi resident, soldiers from the Bayintnaung military base in Than Daung Gyi were mobilized and deployed to the Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain under orders from higher authorities, with artillery also accompanying them.

Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain, situated approximately 30 miles from Taungoo Township, falls within the territory controlled by the 2nd Brigade of the Karen National Union (KNU). Beyond its renown for granting prayers, the mountain draws worshipers, as well as local and international tourists, thanks to its natural splendor and breathtaking vistas of a sea of clouds.

“The soldiers claimed justified they were following orders to be stationed on the mountain, bringing the artillery with them.” The local villager elaborated ,” the artillery is present on the mountain, and it’s uncertain whether it might affect the town’s residents. We hope that as long as no one provokes the soldiers, there won’t be any issues. The pastors have previously engaged in negotiations with the Military Council to prevent conflicts in the town. It seems the soldiers will be staying in the prayer rooms on the mountain, as there are no other accommodations for them there”, she told KIC.

Soldiers have occupied the Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain since October 7th and have not withdrawn from the location to date.

The presence of soldiers has made even locals who frequently travel up and down the mountain hesitant to move around in the vicinity anymore. ” Even after the coup last summer, some pilgrims from Taungoo and Yangon still came to Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain. However, since the soldiers have been deployed on the mountain, I don’t think anyone will come to visit there anymore. The facilities built for visitors are also now occupied by soldiers”, a local who did not want to be named said.

Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain stands at an elevation exceeding 4,500 feet above sea level, and is linked by a staircase spanning over 500 feet from its base to its summit.

Prior to the coup Naw Bu Baw served as a prominent landmark in Than Daung Gyi, attracting visitors from various places, and it was often bustling with activity.

Following the coup with the escalation of skirmishes in the region, the influx of visitors from distant locations to Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain significantly dwindled. Residents noted that occasional small-scale explosions in the town further contributed to the decline in visitor numbers.

In November of last year, a joint force led by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) executed a surprise attack on the Bayintnaung military base located in the old city area of Than Daung Gyi, resulting in casualties among the Military Council’s forces. Subsequently the base responded by indiscriminately firing artillery and small arms, prompting nearby local communities to temporarily evacuate their homes.

Following that incident, the Bayintnaung military base extended its artillery shelling beyond the areas directly involved in the conflict around Than Daung Gyi, targeting sites deemed suspicious even in the absence of ongoing hostilities, locals said.

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